Love without the small print

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I have a weekly commute to London.  It keeps me in touch with the general populace in this part of the world.  A populace drawn into their own personal smartphone screen.

Music.  Emails.  Instant Messaging.  Interminable Indulgent Instagram.  Social Media.  Less and less (thankfully) those intrusive “Can you hear me?” phone-calls on (what used to be called) mobile telephones.  Voice calls much less popular now keyboard and lens replaces the need for actually speaking.

And the biggest draw of these wonderful gadgets … ?

We can all look down.  We can avoid the need to pretend we are alone.  Avoid the discomfort of not making eye contact.  Avoid all the embarrassment of not having to speak to someone face-to-face (or kneecap-to-kneecap).

I remember my younger sister commuting regularly in London years ago (before smartphones). She reported how wonderful it was to see so many people praying for such extended periods. She couldn’t comprehend that closing one’s eyes when commuting in cramped spaces was simply the accepted way of avoiding eye-contact. I still chuckle remembering her face when she found out that praying wasn’t such a common occurrence in The City after all!

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My Godmother’s husband was a chatterer.  An embarrassment.
In any situation he would strike up a conversation.  Loudly.  What we (used to) think of as “The American Way”.
That genetic malady which ignores everyone else’s comfort zones … which rides roughshod over others’ expected-and-defended “personal space”.
But the odd thing was that the majority of those who suffered this intrusion seemed to enjoy the experience.
We just cringed in the background.  With a little envy.

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And as I look out and see the headlines … the (current) forensic analysis of the (another) horrific terrorist attack on London Bridgethe repeated claim of (all) government who have “allocated £xxm in additional funding” (to fix every problem raised) the noise of right and wrong (as we reduce our planet to one giant overflowing rubbish bin)the permanent public arena of “gladiatorial protagonists” spewed out for our entertainment in news and “social meeja”the increasing and inextricable “looking down” and away from so much that unites us

I wonder what other species is quite so self-absorbed.

I wonder how we have detached ourselves from who we really are.  How we made “religion” just another science.  How we made science just another “god”.  How we manage to convince ourselves that “being connected” (to this wonderful self-healing-home) is no longer relevant to us.

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Us the alpha species … the species no longer a “species” … a “species” now having outgrown itself.   Now entitled … now complacent … now detached from the very connection that gave birth to each of us … on this planet that nurtures us … that heals us simply by the sound of a breeze – the sight of all those stars – the smell of freshly cut grass – the taste of cold icy water.   These simple things that connect us – heal our restlessness – our searching – our very souls.

I wonder what other species despises its own kind so much that it chooses to look down … chooses to detach … chooses to “talk” to someone on the other side of the world (in preference to someone sitting right next to me).

Is it fear – and if so of what?  And if it isn’t fear then … what?  Arrogance?  Entitlement?  Ignorance?  That “you aren’t interesting enough” … ?

What is it that means we each choose to look down more and more?

Even church.

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That (default) looking down when “talking” to the being who is loved and loves.  The default (of “worship”) that is now the default for (“talking” to) everybody.  The default “nice smile” that is the default for everyone in every (unexciting) conversation.

I think church has a very important role to play in the world today. 

A role to encourage “looking up” as THE default.  Making eye-contact as THE default.  Finding excitement in the ordinary (that is each of us) as THE default.  Drawing ALL together as THE ONLY default. 

(because the preaching of correctness … of sin … of division salvation … of judgment salvation …. is the default of looking down)

And “the default” of looking up can only start by looking God in the eye.   By not bitching about sin all the time.  By making Love the beginning AND middle AND end of ALL conversations.  Real love.  Unconditional love.  Inclusive love.

Love without the small print of religion and correct (rule littered) teaching”.

We need to teach THE default of looking up.

Because if the church really is “the people” …

We are ALL “the people”!

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When that kicks in – loves checks out

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I think loving me the hardest of all.  I don’t mean the “I can’t be bothered.” … the “I could never do that.” … the “Let someone else do it.”   Nor do I mean the “I am better than anyone else.”… the “I have rights.” … the “What about me.”

I mean loving me as I would love my own child … my own partner … that stranger in need … that best friend I have known for ever … that special someone I would walk over hot coals for …

That kind of “loving me”.

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The greatest of these.

God?  Well loving God comes in all shapes and sizes.  Initially like a stranger who must be obeyed.  Then, perhaps, as a wonderful deity who can only be worshipped and praised.  Then, maybe, the most important relationship in my life.  Then, possibly, a friend – a best friend.  No longer the detached “up there” gaseous ether.  Now someone I trust.  Not to “fix things” all the time.  That is my role – just like no friend expects me to “fix things” in every part of their life.  That would be just plain weird!  Just someone who will always think the best of me.  Never give up on me.  Always have an ear for me.

I heard someone who does daily marathons for a living say that we rarely – if ever – really know what we are each capable of.  I think that lack of knowing underpins this “The Greatest of these” …

Others?  Well loving others is pretty easy too.  An odd donation … I am praying for you … My thoughts are with you … perhaps even a volunteering of my time – my skills – my resources – my heartbeats – perhaps even my whole diary!  Which is like giving my life for you (the “others” we must love).  Except that is a weird kind of love.  It’s an obligation kind of love.  A duty kind of love.  A service kind of love.  A bit like a God kind of love.  I should (if I am a good Christian).

I heard someone say that “We are a broad church”.  That the buildings aren’t “it” that “we are” it.  But I still don’t really know what “it” is.   Or why I am expected to go to “it”.   I think “it” gets in the way of “The Greatest of these” …

And then me.

What I have found over the years is that when I consciously register that I am “doing” love (in whatever moment of my life and with whoever that moment is with) … It is no longer love.  It is me “giving”.

And I have learned that when I think “giving” I think “getting” (in some weird default can’t control it kind of way).  I have found that when this “The Greatest of these” is a “commandment” … giving AND getting become involved.

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And when that kicks in – loves checks out.

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And as I absorb the essence of (what I think) is the point of the bible … I find that “commandment stuff” less and less relevant.  Along with all this “transaction” faith we have created … The need to sign-up for the creeds stuff.  The “I believe” stuff.  The hierarchy stuff.  The “institution” stuff.  The “religion” stuff which includes creation and sin and a lot of deaths and more sin and atonement through more killing innocent creatures bred for the purpose of “their blood shed for me”.

And then the great “reset”. 

The cross and resurrection – and a conundrum.  The “blood shed for me” being the biggie – with the “resurrection” being the proof it’s all good.  Because if the blood is “it” then why the need for the resurrection?  And if the resurrection is “it” why the need for the killing and blood?  there is loads of healing and bringing others back to life – loads of “your sins ore forgiven”  – all without a cross in sight …

And why the “facts and evidence” we have now made all of this.  The “But God Says” (in the bible).  And the bible is The Word of God (but the Koran isn’t).  Nor is (just) the Old Testament.  Nor is  the continuous political meddling relevant – other than it proves the bible IS God inspired (really???).

Why that “need” for the bible to be “it” – unless it is so the church can be “it” – which means I get to be “it” by being saved and believing in all of “it”?

The Greatest of these.

Two words have become more and more powerful in my journey with The Greatest of these …

“I Am”.

I

and

Am

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The Greatest of these is I and Am.

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(what else can top that?)

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What does “We need builder-uppers” really mean?

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“I have come to realise that many Christians question much that is taught (and written) in and of the bible but … privately. “ 

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“Needing to know the bible”

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“My bible teaching started young with The Nice Bits.   Even “The Most Important Bit” is  airbrushed beyond recognition.   Being “washed in blood” has only ever been (and remains) a gratuitous-gore-fest-of-senseless-killing … unless it is The Story of The Cross.”

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“Bigging-up the bible” has to be done in the right way, or else it is “knocking the bible”.   And then we open up that “we have enough criticisers” – we need “builder-uppers”.   And – of course – the qualified-in-God “facts” of what God and Jesus actually meant by sin and saved – all the “correct” (builder-upper) bible stuff.

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“Being scripturally correct … The devil does it … atheists do it … Christians do it … we ALL do it … We ALL screw with the bible.  And yet the bible remains The Way.”

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Want to read the rest?.

“Needing to know the bible”  – justmebeingcurious

.Might not be what you expect.

Thank you –

Paul

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The Great Awakening

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Whoaah!  Where am I – what am I – who am I … ?

Relax Paul.  You are here with me.

Where … who .. . why …

What you call “dead”.  What I call “alive”.

Dead … heaven … me … ?

If you like.  Definitions and labels are so cumbersome I find.

So you are … “God” … ?

As I said I find definitions and labels cumbersome.  But for the sake of your well-being – yes I am God.  Welcome to heaven.  Can I get you anything … glass of champagne … warm towel for your face … a phone call to your wife … ?

Later God – later …

Paul you are a naughty boy!  All that “love without condition”.  You really were breaking as many rules as you could your lay your hands on weren’t you?  All my commandments in the bible.  All those certain words I need you to say.  All that “biblically correct” teaching I needed from you – and which you turned away from.  All that worshiping and praising you never did to my expectation or rules.  All that not gathering together inside a great big church building that you should have done.  AND all that never tithing or giving much to the building of church at all.

You shouldn’t really be here.

You never believed in me correctly at all.

So is this like a departure lounge –

I either turn left to first class or am told to turn right to economy with an eternity of gnashing my teeth and hellish companions?

Sigh … … 

I have to say that that is one the most common responses I get at this point. 

This bible you all waved in each other’s faces – this “inerrant and infallible” lump of dung you elevated to idolatry – this “scripturally correct” paper and print you all bleated on about …

Wow!

“Wow”?

Wow, Paul.  Like as in how come you missed the point?  Like how come you preferred all that crap?  As in what is the point of any of all of that?  Or, Paul, to put it another way:

How come YOU thought it was okay to love without condition when you shouldn’t have?

How come you thought I loved without condition when I don’t? 

How come you thought it was “correct” to take just one bit and make it your “all”?  To take “love” and make it your guide to me? 

How dare you be so bold – how dare you ignore all that other stuff about not doing this and not doing that – how dare you assume that everyone is loved without condition without ANY (or all) of this “right belief” and “believer stuff”?  How dare you think all that is NOT the required for entry into heaven? 

Why did you even dare to believe that I did NOT impose or expect ANY of that … ?

… …

… … 

God you crack me up!

YOU are EXACTLY who I thought YOU are!

🙂 🙂 🙂 

Well thank you my son. 

But I ask only one thing … That you tread lightly here. 

There are many here who think they earned their way in.  Just as there are many who think they earned their way in by NOT believing in me.  And there are some like you.  A few.  Who never thought it was about earning anything at all. 

Give them time, Paul.

Each has all eternity to eventually “get it” for themselves.

Thanks, God …

Now about that champagne your mentioned …

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Meeting me where I am

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Yesterday’s post has been on my mind.

“I have yet to meet a CEO who does not care … Who will not step outside the box to meet someone where they are … (who will not) override their own polices … to “meet someone where they are”.”

And then this morning GSHJ added this verse: Jesus replied, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” Matthew 19:18

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It was not this way from the beginning.

Because your hearts were hard.

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What Would Jesus Do? WWJD.

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Well …

As a “follower of the way” … as a “disciple” who knows the Master’s heart and mind and soul and very being …

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Is the question even necessary?

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It was not this way from the beginning.

I have yet to meet a CEO who does not to “meet someone where they are”. 

And yet almost every organisation I have “met” does everything in its power to deliver the opposite.  Every organisation I have met is riddled with fear dressed up as policy.  Dressed up as the computer says.  Dressed up as I would love to but I can’t.  Dressed up as “every (senior manager) you speak to will tell you the same as I am telling you”.

Really …. ?

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It was not this way from the beginning.

In the beginning it was God and some dust and a rib.  Should have been easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.  But three is a crowd.  And God got in the way.  So A&E went into hiding.  Because your hearts were hard (or soft or duplicitous).

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In the beginning it was a great concept delivered by the few to the few.

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Such a great concept that more were needed to satisfy demand.  And the few became the many.  And the CEO became distant from the many.  And the many arranged themselves to be the few to the many.  And the few to the many told the many how things were needed to be.  And as the many became a hierarchy – an institution – whose survival now mattered to so many … hearts were hardened.

It was not this way from the beginning.

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For years I have looked at the Gospels and wondered why Jesus lasted only three years.  Why after the cross and all that he floated back upstairs.  Why the few were left with the few rather than the many.  And then the few became the many.  And the few interpreted for the many as the Master had interpreted for the few – and hearts were hardened.

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My relationship with God Soft Hands Jesus is above all other relationships.

 

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It is above “the church” … It is above being “scripturally correct” … It is above “discernment” … It is above all the stuff I have been taught is “The (accepted and correct) Way”.

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It is even above “WWJD?”

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Love is simple and not any of the things I have been taught.

Love “is always the answer (now what’s your question)?”

Love is the brutal and gritty determination and strength of a parent for their child.

Love is the hard as nails defence of wondrous humanity of each for each.

Love is genuine and without duplicity.

Love is generous and kind without transaction.

Love is who we all would like to be when … and if … and but … (when we can afford to be).

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Like … never!!

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“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36)

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GSHJ is my CEO.

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Because The Way is easy and light – because …

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Is who I am.

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From the beginning.

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Glorious Good Friday

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“I have suggested in conversations that whilst church and religion is a great “starter pack”, just like kindergarten, there should come a time when “church” says, “That’s it – now leave here and find the world, find others like you, grow as you will never grow staying here – goodbye.”

I have never had a positive response to that.”

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Another “reflection” on the annual Easter Festival now underway.

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“Either “The bible says we should gather together – that is church”, or “But where would we go, and how would we find others like us?”

Just like questioning Easter.  Tinkered-with and sexed-up to keep it fresh – but essentially the same thing year after year – a surprise party without the surprise.

Does this sound jaundiced?”

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“Yes it sounds jaundiced.

Because there is an alternative.  To actually be one of those “radical faith festival celebs” (just without the festival or the celeb).  Radical faith is no more than thinking outside the (religious) box – enjoying the freedom to allow God out of that box – finding “nourishment” more and more in the everyday AND the everywhere AND in everyone.”

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Why not head over to “Does this sound jaundiced?” and have a look – it is Good Friday after all.

Thank you –

Paul

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Putting off the “love bit”

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“It’s never going to work”, Nan’s Notebook

“I am not a believer.

I left Christianity nearly 20 years ago and have not regretted my decision for one single moment.”

 – – – – – – – – – – – –

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More and more I wonder why we have made “believer” synonymous with “faith and/or religion” – which means “believing” is now “believing” in a proscribed and defined deity.  And is the cause of much verbal warfare (and far worse) … of many institutions and the ongoing “warfare” over their legitimacy/supremacy assumed AND legitimacy/supremacy challenged.

(all of which “gets in the way” a tad)

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I was a believer of many things before I became a “believer”.

I still am.

I believed in love – and still do.  I believed in hard work and getting up again – and still do.  I believed in kindness – and still do.  I believed I shouldn’t be rude – and …  I believed my mum and dad knew everything – and …  I believed my big brother was awesome – and still do.  Just not in the idolising/hate way I used to.

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In short, my living is founded on beliefs of all kinds.  And those beliefs changed and still change.  My “believer” belief no different.

“I am not a believer.” Is like saying I am dead.  Unable to believe anything anymore.  Beyond belief.  Literally.

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I am.

A believer and always will be.

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But what I believe … Now that changes constantly.

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I see Jesus being a believer.

Of love. Of kindness.  Of meeting each where each is in that moment.  Of not labelling or categorising or compartmentalising.   Of allowing and empowering.  Of enabling and liberating.  Of changing for me as I change for me.

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As for the “factual” and “literal” healing and miracles and superpowers and dying and resurrecting and the “evidence” of the bible …

Which must include all that sacrifice and slavery and original sin not eating bacon sandwiches and genocide (repeatedly) of the Old God … 

I don’t need that to be true as I don’t need the New God and the cross to be true.

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For if I need that to be true to be a “believer” … what else do I “need”?

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So, when Nan comes along and blows great big holes in my “believing” (she has written a superb book challenging the “believers” beliefs) … then where do I go and what do I “believe”?

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And all that Old God “badboy stuff” … ?

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My reading is that loads of that (going back to the Garden and forwards) was a crafted and superstitious and controlling bigging-up of “my God is bigger than your God” rhetoric.  Because there is no point in being “Chosen” if your God ain’t the Biggest Baddest Top Table God.

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But – If I read the bible right … I don’t think Jesus needs anything.

Which is the power of love without any conditions at all.

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Maybe that’s why we struggle with love.

We need it to be conditional.

So we argue about “the conditions” …

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which (conveniently) puts off the “love” bit.

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